A Foursquare first: teaming with a news org

By Mark Briggs 

Location-based digital services are exploding all around us. Integration and consolidation of these services is inevitable, so let the partnerships begin.

Metro, Canada’s largest free daily newspaper, announced today it is the first news publisher to partner with fast-growing Foursquare, the social network and location-based game. According to the press release, “Metro will add their location-specific editorial content to the Foursquare service.” There is also a special Metro Foursquare badge that users can unlock when they check-in at a single-copy location (which is part of a contest to promote the partnership and give away some iPhones).

What a boost for a news organization to be associated with a brand as hot as Foursquare is these days. But business development deals that lead to partnerships like this don’t seem like a logical way for this space to evolve. Too time consuming and cumbersome. It makes more sense that open APIs and data sharing will eventually take over, as they’ve done on the consumer web. Foursquare would be wise to allow this type of partnership – the integration of location-based data in exchange for a custom badge – in much the same way Facebook and Twitter have allowed developers to build on their platforms.

Eventually, of course, a mobile device and service will deliver exactly what a user is looking for from their specific location: news, deals, friends, business information, and alerts – all wrapped together with augmented reality goodness. The race is on. Which makes Metro’s announcement today a smart one.